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Career Hub
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Pivoting Careers
Published
Aug 16, 2022
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Updated
Sep 14, 2022

Career Change for Teachers: A Guide on How to Transition from Teaching

Melissa Ripp

Considering leaving teaching and changing careers? This guide will walk you through every step of the process.

This guide will evolve over time to encompass comprehensive advice from current and former teachers, educators who’ve successfully pivoted, and those who are just starting their transition.

As always at Teal, feedback is welcome — if you have thoughts or recommendations for future tools or additional resources, please give us a shout via email or social. 

Best of luck with your transition from teaching. We’re rooting for you every step of the way. 

Why a playbook for transitioning teachers?

If you’re a teacher reading this guide, you most likely know the answer. Teaching is an incredibly rewarding job, but an incredibly tough one, too. The Learning Policy Institute estimates that 200,000 teachers leave the profession every year—with two out of three leaving for reasons other than retirement.

It’s also a number that’s increased over the past two years, fueled by the challenges of teaching during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. In a November 2021 Teachers Pay Teachers survey, nearly half—48%—of the 6,000 teachers surveyed said they had considered changing jobs in the past month—a number that increased from 32% in June 2021. 

In a recent Teal-conducted survey, we checked with more than 100 current and former teachers to better understand why many are considering a career pivot from education to a new industry. An overwhelming majority, 63%, identified burnout as the leading reason why they left or are considering leaving the profession, and 83% said they're looking for better work/life balance in their future career. Plain and simple, teachers are tired. 

Something else that stuck out to us: approximately 70% of the teachers we surveyed said they weren’t sure how to sell themselves as qualified for corporate positions. For many, teaching is the only profession they’ve ever known, making a transition into a new industry difficult and a bit overwhelming. That’s the “why” of this guide: to compile and curate information and resources so that career changes for teachers could be a little more exciting—and a little less anxiety-inducing. This is an incredible opportunity to chart your own course, but we’re also aware that it’s tough to know where to start the job search.

Before we start: Set up your LinkedIn profile

First, a bit of preparation. A LinkedIn profile is one of the must-haves when it comes to your job search—so you’ll want to make sure you’re setting yours up to work for you.‍

Profile Photo

It’s important to have a professional headshot as your LinkedIn profile photo—your picture puts a face to the name. If you don’t have a true headshot, or it’s been a while since yours has been updated, consider having a family member or friend take a few photos of you. A simple, solid background is always a sure bet!‍

Banner Image

The banner image is the large image on the top of your LinkedIn profile. Profiles with LinkedIn banner images are up to 11 times more likely to be viewed than those without. If you’re looking for ideas on how to change yours, this short video can help!‍

LinkedIn URL‍

Creating a custom LinkedIn URL (www.linkedin.com/in/YOURNAME) makes it easier for people to find you on LinkedIn. Teal’s LinkedIn Review tool walks you through how to make that edit, or you can change it directly on LinkedIn.‍

Headline‍

Under your profile picture, LinkedIn allows you to add a headline—and this is easily the most valuable real estate you have. Why? LinkedIn, at its core, is a search engine. When someone—a recruiter, a hiring manager—searches for you there, your headline (along with your name and profile photo) is the first piece of information that can be seen.

Think of your headline as a one-line resume—one that sums up who you are, the roles you might be looking for, and the value you’d bring to a company. It might feel impossible to put all of that information into 220 characters, but it can be done. And, you’ll have plenty of time to go into more detail about your skills and experience as you add to your profile.‍

Here’s an example. Cassie is a former teacher who made the transition into a role at a software company. You can see her headline gives a quick at-a-glance — her current role, a detail about her skillset, and that she’s a former teacher. ‍‍

“About” Section

This next section allows you to summarize your talent and expertise. It functions as a personal mission statement or bio, and you can include a couple of short paragraphs that allow someone to get a feel for who you are as a professional. And, it’s a great way to build the keywords that recruiters and hiring managers use when searching for qualified candidates.

Here are some pieces to consider including in your "About" section:

  • Your current role, and the types of roles you’re targeting
  • The relevant achievements or accomplishments you’re especially proud of
  • A bit about your skills as a teacher, and how you envision using them in your next role
  • The “why” behind your career story—why did you become a teacher? What’s inspiring you to use your talents in a different way?
  • Close the section with some personal details. Are you a gardener? Do you have a pet? Is there something you love to do in your spare time? We’re more than just our jobs, and these small details help illustrate the person you are.

For more guidance, use our free Blurb Builder tool—you can fill in the blanks and then copy/paste the statement back into your LinkedIn profile.‍

“Experience” Section

This is the part of your LinkedIn profile that should mirror your resume. You’ll want to list out your employment history, and for your most recent jobs, include bullet points that explain your main accomplishments and achievements.

Here are a few suggestions for this section:

  • Include keywords that make it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to come across your profile
  • Use strong action words when explaining your responsibilities and achievements
  • Think about your teaching skills as transferable skills, and weave those in where you can (we talk more about those transferable skills below, so hang tight!)
  • Want a second set of eyes to take a look at your profile after you’ve created it? Teal's LinkedIn Review tool gives you personalized recommendations for how to optimize and improve your profile. ‍

Being “Open to Work”‍

As you’re getting more familiar with LinkedIn, you might notice that other people have a green “Open to Work” banner around their profile photos. Should you do the same? It all depends on your comfort level.

  • If you’re in an active, public job search, we’d suggest using the green “Open to Work” banner. The big reason for this is that recruiters can actually filter candidates by who is open to work. They want to hire people who are able to start a job faster, and this helps them fill their roles.
  • If you’d prefer to keep your job search more private, you can change your “Open to Work” setting on LinkedIn to be open to recruiters only. This will remove the green banner, but you’ll still show up in the filter recruiters can search by.
  • You can also say that you’re specifically looking for opportunities in your About section.
  • We don’t suggest including that you’re “looking for roles” or “open to work” in your LinkedIn headline. There are a few reasons for this: 1) You only get 220 characters to make your mark, and you need that precious real estate, and 2) If you use the “Open to Work” settings above, recruiters and hiring managers will automatically know you’re looking for a new opportunity. They're not actively searching "Open for Work" when looking for the roles they're trying to fill—so it's a better use of LinkedIn space to focus on keywords for the job or industry you're looking to pivot into.‍‍

As Shawna Berger, a former teacher who's now a recruiter, explains, "Now that I’m a recruiter myself, I highly recommend teachers to not only become active on LinkedIn by engaging and posting, but to enhance their presence with a well-detailed profile. Things like a summary in the 'About Me' section talking about your career goals, unique skills, and showing your personality, as well as detailed bullet points of accomplishments under your 'Experience' section, will make you stand out amongst a sea of transitioning teachers.

Give examples of programs you’ve piloted, initiatives you’ve implemented, new teachers you’ve mentored, or professional development trainings you’ve organized, etc. People outside of education often don’t realize all of the projects teachers are involved in aside from classroom planning and instruction, so make sure you tell them." 

Part 1: So you’re contemplating a pivot. Now what?

You’ve made up your mind: as much as you love your students, you’re officially taking the steps to leave the classroom. You feel excited, nervous, and a little scared—but you’re ready. But what’s the first step, exactly?

Even though you’ve most likely done your fair share of thinking to get to this point, this is a great time to truly reflect on what you want the next part of your career to look like.

Here are some of our recommendations for doing just that, complete with free workbooks and resources we’ve put together to make career changes for teachers that much easier: ‍

Do some soul-searching to determine what you really want.

  • Determine your values and motivation: Use our values workbook to help you determine what’s important to you in your new role. Suppose you’re feeling stuck on identifying or articulating your values. In that case, we recommend checking out our free, on-demand video class that explains our career values framework and helps you dive further into what you want more and less of in your new career or role.
  • Reflect on your skills: Use our skills workbook to reflect on the skills you’ve gained through teaching and how they may translate into your next role. Next, identify potential skills—abilities you haven’t acquired yet, but want to learn and/or develop. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to identifying and leveraging those skills, our free, on-demand video class can help you better understand your natural strengths and energizers, as well as acquired skills.
  • Brainstorm your interests: Use our interests workbook to identify your interests and how they align with your skills. Check out this free, on-demand video class on how to align your interests and skills—and this class on how you research career options so you can more easily brainstorm potential opportunities and identify any blockers.
  • Develop your career pivot strategy: The thought of departing from teaching can feel overwhelming if it’s the only profession you’ve ever known. Having a career pivot strategy—a series of foundational steps you take to ensure you’re feeling strong and empowered in your decision-making process—can help. These strategies include actions like learning how to talk about your experience, creating a transition plan, and learning how to network. Learn how to develop yours here. ‍

Go from thinking to doing: How to brainstorm and research possible career options

Now that you’ve spent some time getting into the right headspace about how to transition from teaching, it’s time to dig into the next step: researching the career options that will align with the values, skills, and interests you’ve documented.

At this stage, you might not be sure what types of roles you want to apply for quite yet, or what kind of career you want to pivot to. That’s to be expected—and we have a few things that might help:

Redefine what “career passion” means‍

Passion looks different for everyone, and there’s no one way that feeling passionate translates to your everyday life. And for transitioning teachers, determining passion outside of the classroom can be a bit tricky, as your passion has likely been working with young people and helping them realize their potential.

That might very well still be your passion, and that’s 100% okay! It’s a feeling that’s been part of you for so long that it might never go away. However, it’s also good to remember that passion can show up in different ways. It can change based on where you are in your career and can show up as more simple emotions like relief, comfort, or even pleasure.

As you move through your work life and personal life each day, take note of the times when you feel calm, relaxed, or happy. Those could be the signs that lead you to identify your passion.‍

Take teacher-turned-recruiter Shawna Berger, for example. "I never assumed teaching would be my lifelong career because I do have many interests and passions," she explains. "I taught for 17 years and felt like at this point, I really accomplished everything I wanted to in education and I was ready for a new challenge." 

"Yes, it was scary. I was very comfortable in my job, at my school, etc. But getting out of your comfort zone can be exciting, too."

But it's not so clear-cut for everyone—each career journey is unique, and for others, the transition out of the classroom isn't an easy one. As former teacher Jo Moss, who now works in customer experience, explains, “Teaching was my passion. Like my dream job, my dream career. It was more a feeling of sadness leaving. Definitely income was a huge driving factor for change, as well as health safety concerns, work/life balance, and having more autonomy over my work impact and day-to-day schedule." 

"For me, there was a huge emotional component when I left teaching," adds Heather Scott, a former teacher and now social media marketer. "I felt guilty about leaving the profession, but I was so emotionally drained I knew I needed to support education outside of the classroom. I don't regret moving to publishing, but even decades later there are times I really miss seeing those day-to-day developments and discoveries!"

Take time to identify your career goals‍

Looking in-depth at your accomplishments and setbacks—and asking yourself what you can work on—is helpful for self-reflection and setting intentions, especially as you prepare to transition out of teaching. Setting goals for yourself can be a useful aspect of progressing through your personal and professional life. Our free workbook can help guide you through the process so you can evaluate and establish important goals, creating a clearer idea of what you’re working towards. ‍

Discover your work style‍

In addition to being in touch with your skills and interests, you’ll also want to figure out your work style — the collection of behaviors and attitudes that you apply to your tasks and relationships in your day-to-day work. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they approach their work, including how you solve problems and manage relationships.

Understanding your work style can also help you figure out the roles you might excel in. When you’re able to tailor how you work to what you do, you can maximize your happiness — and your success. Take our Work Styles assessment to determine yours—and how to use the results to your advantage in your job search. ‍

Brainstorm and document your options‍

The best way to start understanding your potential options is through good old-fashioned brainstorming. Having a plan with these options laid out can help streamline your job search process, as it minimizes the time you’ll spend on industries or companies that you know you’re not interested in.

First, brainstorm industries, companies, and functions that appeal to you. This will help refine your search and make your career shift that much easier. Think of companies that have caught your eye in the past, or that you’ve admired and would enjoy working for. Make a list of industries other former teachers in your network have successfully transitioned to. If you need a place to start recording your thoughts, our free Career Shift Research Tool can help—and as you see companies you might want to work for, adding them to your Teal Job Tracker is a great way to keep them organized. ‍

"I started out by talking to close friends and family about my desires to leave the classroom and welcomed their ideas," says Shawna Berger, who transitioned from teaching to recruiting. "After all, they know me and they know what I’m good at. I received amazing feedback and researched many of the jobs they suggested, as well as career paths that I found other transitioning teachers taking from my networking on LinkedIn." 

Use job boards for career research

Job boards—like the ones you see on LinkedIn, Indeed, and Zip Recruiter — can be used for so much more than looking for jobs. Often, these platforms use the job description as part of the algorithm for creating search results, so a great place to start is by typing your skills and interests into the search bar of the job board and seeing what comes up. You might be surprised at all of the job roles that come up that are looking for the skills and interests you have!

Check out this video on TikTok from Teal CEO Dave Fano for a closer look at how this works.

Think of job browsing on these sites as a bit of online “window shopping.” There’s no need to decide on anything yet—but you can save the roles that pique your interest so you can go back and identify commonalities later. 

Once you start to get an idea of what kind of jobs are out there that align with your skills and interest, you can move on to finding roles and potential salaries. Research job boards to take a look at how those roles translate to available positions, and what the average salaries are for those roles.

Network, network, network through informational interviews

Another way to decide on the type of career you’d like to have is to network with those who are working a career path that you’re interested in or have a job title that keeps coming up in your searches. Informational interviews are meetings to exchange information with no other intent other than networking and learning. 

Informational interviews might seem daunting at first because they may require you to reach out to people you don’t know. We’ve put together some resources to help you conduct successful informational interviews, complete with guides and templates to help you send that initial email, craft interview questions, and send a follow-up thank you. A great way to test the waters for informational interviews is through LinkedIn—posting a quick post to let your network know that you’re looking to have some conversations can result in plenty of leads, too!

As Cassie Piggott—a former teacher who now works in customer success—explains, "I started my journey out of the classroom at the end of 2021. I was burnt out and looking for a new adventure. But, like a lot of other teachers that have never had to truly network before, I spent several months lurking on LinkedIn. I was applying for jobs but I didn’t understand why my job search wasn’t getting any real traction. I had sidelined myself but didn’t realize it."

"Thankfully a new LinkedIn friend pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and truly network with people. I was so scared! I couldn't just send random people emails asking for their time; what if they ignored me or, even worse, were rude? The exact opposite happened. These people gave their time to me and answered my questions. They sincerely wanted to help me and I was floored. From that point on, I was shooting my shot all day long on LinkedIn. If I applied for a job, you better believe the job poster and the hiring manager were getting a connection request and a DM from me. I was also pushing out content and creating videos about how my teacher skills translated to Customer Success skills."

Networking on LinkedIn can be so valuable during your job search and can lead transitioning teachers to helpful resources along the way.

One piece of advice as you work through this soul-searching:

Remember that the career you’re looking to get into now is not the career you might have 5 to 10 years from now. Many of us were taught to consider long-term career plans and goals (hello, teaching!) but that style of planning rarely fits with today’s fast-moving reality.

Shawna Berger, a transitioned teacher turned recruiter, explains, "I also recommend to teachers not to be afraid of temp or contract positions. It’s a foot in the door that can give you great experience and possibly lead to a full-time job, but it’s also an opportunity for you to try out a new career."

Career pivots are becoming more and more normal, so don’t pressure yourself to find that “one thing” you’re going to do for the rest of your life. Focus on long-term objectives instead and keep those broad, and outline action steps for the next year or two. This gives you the flexibility to evaluate and shift as needed—without getting caught up in the story that your career needs to develop or move in a certain direction. Think stepping stone—not a fully-cemented pathway. 

Recommended Reading

Here are a few books and articles to get you started on your journey. While the books are high-level career pivot-types of reads, you’ll see there are plenty of teacher-specific articles to check out!

Books:
Articles:

Take stock of your transferable skills

All those skills you’ve acquired as you’ve worked to hone your teaching craft throughout the years? They’re highly marketable to other roles and industries as well. These are called transferable skills—the talents and abilities we acquire through our past work experiences, our schooling and professional development, internships, hobbies, and volunteer experiences. 

"I still struggle in general with the resume—how to word things, how to explain what tasks and accomplishments I’ve done at a previous job," says Jo Moss, who transitioned from teaching to a customer experience role at an edtech company.

We’re here to confirm: as a teacher, you have an incredible amount of skills that can easily be transferred to other industries. Here are just a few:

  • Multitasking and managing tasks, events, and projects
  • Efficiency and time management
  • Problem solving/evaluating and decision making
  • Being detail-oriented
  • Interpersonal skills and building relationships
  • Having enthusiasm and a “can-do” attitude
  • Innovative
  • Adaptive
  • Writing skills and curriculum development
  • Research and technical skills (good with technology, etc.)
  • Analyzing data and trends
  • Collaborating and working independently

Now, here’s a more in-depth look at how your classroom skills can easily be applied to a business setting: 

Classroom skills and corporate skills list
Examples of how classroom skills may be transferable to a corporate setting.

As you reflect on your own transferable skills, use our free skills workbook to record them. Using the grid above as a guide, think about how you’d reframe those skills in the context of the industries and roles you’re interested in.

Nicole Routon, a former teacher who's now an instructional designer, training specialist, and resume writer, spent time reflecting on the activities she liked and how those may translate outside of the classroom. "I was a science teacher, so I really enjoyed activities like building, but I also really loved putting together the experiences," she noted. "I realized that I really liked developing what you're going to do during a lesson or a curriculum. I was going to the conferences, and I always pictured myself talking to people about different kinds of technology and, you know, kind of selling them on the fact that they needed it in the classrooms. It felt like sort of a natural transition then in that sense." 

Follow other transitioning teachers

A key part of any career pivot is surrounding yourself with others who either have done—or are in the process of doing—the same thing. The good news is that you’re not alone—there are many others in your shoes figuring out how to transition from teaching, and many of them are documented or have documented that process on social media and through other online channels.

Here’s a short list of people we suggest connecting with on Instagram and Facebook:

Millennial in Debt
Melissa was a classroom teacher for 11 years and is now making the transition into tech. Not only does she have great content for how to navigate your job search, she also has plenty of content that’s transitioning teacher-specific.

Teacher Career Coach
Daphne is a former teacher whose passion is supporting others in their own career transitions from the classroom. She talks about lessons she learned in her own career pivot, as well as timely topics like whether a recession may impact transitioning teachers. 

Teacher Transition
Ali is a great follow for when you’re job search is getting geared up — she has the scoop on plenty of teacher-friendly jobs. She also posts many jobs on her Instagram feed, as well as experiences like virtual job fairs and summits. 

Send It! To Success
Rebecca and Michael are two former teachers who now help burned-out educators and mission-driven professionals make career changes using the skills they already have. In addition to their social media content, they have plenty of free resources!

Transitioning Teachers and Teachers Transitioning to Tech, both private Facebook groups, are both great communities for teachers who are just starting out with their career pivots and want to connect with people who are in the midst of their own journeys. 

And, LinkedIn is one of the best places to locate other #TransitioningTeachers — even searching the hashtag is a great way to see who else is on the same path. If you’d like a few current and former educators to get started, here are a few of our recommendations.

Want to be added to this list? Send us a note here and we're glad to include you.

Part 2: The search process

Okay, you’ve done the important part of soul-searching before you dove straight into the job search—awesome! The skills and interests you’ve uncovered, passions you’ve paid attention to, people you’ve talked with, and transitioning teachers you’ve followed will all help with this next phase—getting into the nitty-gritty of the actual job search.

Make a job search plan

We understand—searching for the right job can feel more than a little overwhelming. There are so many types of jobs for teachers leaving education. How do you know which step to take? Creating a plan by narrowing down your opportunities and allocating time to work through the process can help the process be less stressful and more manageable. 

This is where all of the research you’ve done in the section above can come in handy. Using our free Job Search Planner workbook, list the roles and industries you’re interested in pursuing, along with the companies you’d like to work for. This can help you narrow your search, allowing you to spend the time on the opportunities you’re most excited about.

Next, set a timeline for yourself to stay accountable during your job search. Consider how many hours you’d like to spend per week searching for a job. If you use the Job Search planner, it will automatically calculate how many people to network with and jobs to apply for and follow up on per week to ensure you hit your goals. 

Save roles you’re interested in and identify common themes

When you’re going through the process of looking at roles, you’ll want to have a foolproof organization system. Teal’s Job Tracker can help you save all of your jobs in one central spot, or if a spreadsheet is more your jam, you could go that route.

As you’re developing your initial list of interesting roles, make a note of any commonalities that come up. For instance, do the jobs seem to have a specific industry in common, such as educational technology or advertising and marketing? How about the roles themselves — are the majority of them Project Manager roles, or Instructional Design, for example? Seeing all of these roles in one place can help you streamline your search further and start concentrating on specific industries or role types.

Learn how to decode job descriptions 

A job description (also called a JD for short) is a statement that outlines the essential job requirements, duties, responsibilities, and skills required to perform a specific role. It’s like a company’s request for a proposal that outlines everything they’re looking for in an employee. Your job is to explain—through your cover letter and resume—why you’re as close to a match as possible for what they’re seeking. 

As you’re reading through a job description, think about it in these four sections:

The requirements

When companies write job descriptions, they’re trying to be as unambiguous as possible—after all, not letting candidates know exactly what they’re looking for creates more work on their end as well. Pay special attention to the requirements—the essential hard skills and the minimum qualifications.

One tip we suggest is as you’re reading the requirements, turn each bullet point into a question mark and ask yourself: “Do I have experience with X?” 

For example, if you’re looking at a marketing role and the company requires “7+ years Lifecycle/CRM experience with a proven understanding of product-led growth motions,” ask yourself, “Do I have7+ years of Lifecycle/CRM experience with a proven understanding of product-led growth motions?” 

It might sound silly, but trust us—it can be a huge help in determining what the requirements are and whether you have the skills they’re looking for to apply for the role. 

The “nice to haves”

In taking a look at the requirements, you might see another set of bullet points or information that say things like, “Experience in the edtech industry is a plus,” or “Master’s degree preferred, but not required.” These are called “nice to haves” — qualifications that aren’t critical, but would be a “plus” for a candidate to bring to the table. 

Here’s the truth about “nice to haves” — candidates who have these skills, experience, and education levels will most likely be prioritized, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply if it’s a job that interests you. In many cases, these experiences may enhance success in a particular role, but it’s not critical to have. 

The role description and responsibilities

When you’re looking at a job description, pay attention to how the roles and responsibilities of the role are listed. As career strategist and recruiter Maddie Machado explains, “The roles and responsibilities in a job description are listed in order of how much you’re going to be doing each in the job. Whatever is the top bullet point is what you’ll be doing primarily. If the things you enjoy doing the most are at the bottom of the list, you’re probably not going to be doing much of that. I always try to tell people that a job description is written by order of importance.” 

Company information

After you’ve gone through the description, requirements, and responsibilities, zoom out and concentrate on the company itself. Make sure you do your homework on them by exploring the following:

  • Are you familiar with the company, or do you need to do a bit of research? 
  • Has the company been in business for a while, or is it a start-up? 
  • If they are a startup, what stage are they in? What does their funding look like? 
  • How many people work for the company? 
  • Is there a hiring manager’s name attached to the job description? Can you look them up on LinkedIn to find out more?

Here are some resources that can help break down job description language even further—all of the articles below are written for human resources departments and recruiters, but they’ll give you additional information on how JDs are typically structured: 

Work to close skills gaps by upskilling

As you begin to read through job descriptions, you’ll most likely notice skills requirements that come up over and over. Continuing with our Instructional Design example above, you might see job descriptions that ask for specific experience with a learning management system (LMS) like Blackboard or Canvas. Or, perhaps there’s a company you’d like to work for, but nearly every description of theirs asks that people be fluent in Webflow and Notion.

The truth is, for the many transferable skills you possess, you may need to do a bit of professional development to fill your skills gaps in other areas. Depending on the career change you’re planning to make, you may require more or less upskilling. If you’re transitioning to a tech company or a tech-focused role, you may need to become proficient in the main platforms the company uses, or at least be familiar with them. 

If this feels overwhelming, don’t worry—upskilling for the sake of a career pivot is to be expected. And, there are plenty of free and paid resources out there—online courses, boot camps, and learning modules—to help you become a pro at whichever platform or tool an organization is focusing on. 

And, here’s an added benefit to upskilling: no matter how confident you are during your job search, there might be times you’re working through impostor syndrome—that phenomenon where you get tricked into thinking you’re not as competent and capable as you really are. One of the best ways to combat that feeling is to learn something new, and starting with the expertise you’ll need in your new career is a great place to begin. 

Cassie Piggott, whom you may remember from earlier in this piece, put it this way: "Upskilling is so important... There are things about working in the corporate world that teachers just don’t know. I focused on Salesforce training through their free Trailhead program. I advise everyone to get some type of basic CRM training because no matter what career you move into you will probably be required to use a CRM. You don’t have to pay a ton of money, either—there are a ton of free resources out there."

A fellow transitioning teacher, Myquasia Chambers, who's now a tech recruiter, noted:

"I took this as a time to upskill because I saw that skills were something that people were using to thrive and get into tech. Even though I still miss my students, being in an environment where you’re respected, acknowledged, and you can make sure your work-life balance is important to you—this is where I need to be.” 

Identifying skills gaps

Before you start identifying how you begin to narrow your skills gap, let’s first focus on identifying what you need to learn. There are two ways we’d suggest narrowing this down:

  • One is to compare job descriptions using Teal’s Job Tracker to see what skills keep coming up over all of the roles you’ve saved. 
  • The other way is by embarking on a personal SWOT analysis to determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and develop a plan for what you’re going to focus on to develop your skills.

Connecting skills gaps to the right learning tool

Now that you’ve narrowed down what you need to learn, you’ll want to find the best places and platforms for you to soak up that knowledge. We’ve got you covered there. Below, we’ve created a comprehensive list of paid and free courses, platforms, and resources that provide a great starting point:

Transitioning teacher-specific resources and courses:
General and technology-focused resources and platforms:

*Please note: These are affiliate links, which means Teal may earn a commission for purchases made through this link. We only recommend products, resources, and programs that we believe in and trust, and will disclose if any of our content is sponsored. 

Any other classes, courses, or resources you’d add to this list? Send us a note and let us know! 

Brush up on unfamiliar terminology

Just as you might stumble across platforms, technology, and skills you’re unfamiliar with once exploring jobs for teachers leaving education, there might be acronyms and terminology that you haven’t seen before. (Especially in tech—the tech industry LOVES their acronyms!) Understanding this terminology can not only help with your job search, but it can help you be more knowledgeable in interviews.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most-used corporate acronyms so you can start to get familiar—and if you’d like to dive in even further, this piece from The Muse is another great resource.

Common corporate acronyms - general list
Common corporate acronyms - technical list
Common corporate acronyms - Marketing list

Search for roles in unconventional ways (aka not LinkedIn)

LinkedIn and the popular job boards like Indeed can be great starting places to start your job search, but we’d be doing you a huge disservice if we didn’t point out all of the other resources you can use to uncover the sheer number of opportunities and jobs for teachers leaving education:

Look for job boards off the beaten path

One of the best-kept secrets in the job application process are the job boards that aren’t quite as mainstream. Many of these boards are niche job boards that specialize in a particular subgroup or industry (i.e women in tech, remote jobs, etc.) —and often, they feature roles that aren’t posted on LinkedIn. Pursuing these boards is a great way to find job descriptions that pique your interest and align with your skillset. 

Recently, we rounded up a list of 40+ job boards that the free Teal Job Tracker extension supports—and we’re always updating this list regularly. If you happen to come across one in your own job search that we’ve missed, please let us know

Leverage your network

Networking is—by far—the most effective way to land a job. The data speaks for itself—50% of people hear about potential jobs from their friends, while 37% of people will learn about a role through their professional networks. And, the quality of the roles—and your ability to land an interview—improves dramatically if you have some sort of personal or professional connection to the role. 

One misconception about networking that we’d like to dispel: many people think they should only consider reaching out to the people that they know. But as our CEO Dave Fano says, it’s actually the “loose ties” and the “weak ties” that get you the most results. Think about it: even if your friends or first-degree connections on LinkedIn aren’t hiring, they most likely know a person or company that is.

As Shawna Berger puts it, "Referrals are so helpful. I absolutely encourage teachers to reach out to friends, family, and even acquaintances during the job seeking process."

Still not sure who to ask, or where to find them? Here's a quick breakdown.

List of ways to leverage your network

Another important part of your network are the contacts you meet through the informational interviews we talked about above. Your new connections might work at a company who is hiring, or might know of someone at another organization who’s hiring. 

Research and join digital communities

The “Transitioning Teachers” Facebook groups and Instagram accounts listed above are another great way to learn about open roles. Many former teachers who now have non-classroom roles continue to stay in these groups even after they’ve started a new job for the purpose of helping others, and you might see opportunities here before they’re rolled out to the bigger job boards. 

Teal’s CEO Dave Fano goes in-depth into all of these strategies and more in this free digital course on how to find job opportunities — be sure to check it out!

Recommended Reading:

Part 3: The resume

Now we get to the good part — creating and tailoring your resume. 

In helping thousands of job seekers — including transitioning teachers like you — grow their careers, we want to impart a few things about the resume that are important to keep in mind before you even put proverbial pen to paper:

There’s no such thing as the “one perfect resume.”

The moment you began your job search, you started a brand-new role: that of a sales person. The product you’re selling? You.

At Teal, we often say a job posting is like a request for a proposal, and your resume is the sales pitch. No good salesperson would give the same pitch to different clients, who most likely have different problems—and similarly, we recommend that you not submit the same resume when you’re applying for different roles.

The truth is that there’s no such thing as the one perfect resume that will speak to every role at every company. Tailoring your resume for each job—or at least the jobs you’re most interested in—is the best way to increase your odds at being called for an interview.

Educators Caitlin and Jenny discuss the importance of tailoring your resume for each job description in their podcast, CK & GK Podcast. We also suggest listening to their episode providing tips and tricks for writing a killer cover letter.

The job of your resume? To get you an interview.

Notice that above, we didn’t end our sentence with, “the best way to increase your odds of getting a job.” That’s because the purpose of your cover letter and resume is to get you through to that very first stage—the interview. Your resume should quickly make the case of how qualified you are for a specific position. Studies show that recruiters spend about 7.4 seconds looking at each resume—another reason why tailoring your resume for the job you're applying for—or at least the general job family—is so critical.

Note: when we say “tailor,” we’re not saying you have to fully rewrite your resume for every position. After all, this is a job search, and we can’t ignore the fact that on average, it takes 21 to 80 job applications for a job seeker to get one job offer! On the contrary—we’re focusing on a few strategic modifications that you can make to align your resume to the specific details of a job description. 

Begin with a resume baseline

Before you can begin tailoring your resume, you’ll want to develop one to use as your primary resume. In the Teal platform, we refer to that section as your "Work History"—a place for all of your accomplishments, achievements, and professional wins so that when it comes time to tailor your resume for a particular role, you have a running list of successes to choose from, and you can select the most relevant bullet points without having to start from scratch.

Once you have your primary resume and have documented your achievements, how do you begin tailoring it for maximum impact? We recommend looking at four different aspects: 

  • Skills.
    Look at a job description to see how the company is writing about skills, both in terms of hard skills and soft skills. Are they being written in tool form (like Excel, PowerPoint, or HubSpot) or are they being written in more of a tactical or verb form (presentation design, marketing automation, or data analysis)? Tailor the presentation of your skills to match how the company is displaying their requirements. 
  • Industry.
    Think about industry as domain knowledge—it’s often only able to be obtained through direct work experience. We realize as a transitioning teacher, you most likely don’t have this industry experience, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply! Just spell out exactly how your skills are transferable to the industry of the company. 
  • Product.
    Consider how the company makes money, and how they package what they sell. Do they sell software, or another kind of product? Do they sell to other businesses (business-to-business, or B2B) or do they sell directly to people/consumers (i.e., B2C)? Do they sell long-term contracts to large companies, or monthly subscriptions to consumers? This might sound like an in-depth question, but companies will prioritize candidates who are familiar with their product and target audiences. 
  • Stage.
    This refers to what stage of growth a company is currently in. Let’s say you’re looking to transition into tech, and are looking at technology startups. Depending on the company, you could be trying to get an interview with an established technology company—one that’s been around for 10–15 years—or one that's in the venture-funded or growth stages. Depending on a company’s stage, they’ll have very different hiring needs, so being able to speak to how your skills and job experience can be a benefit to where are in their business is another consideration. To learn more about what stage a company's in, we recommend searching the company on Crunchbase.

With these four main areas taken into consideration, the next step is to adjust your resume so that it utilizes the keywords most relevant to the job description. To do this, review the job description, identify the keywords that are used most frequently (you can do so for free in Teal when you add a role to your Job Tracker!) and incorporate those words into the resume you’re customizing. 

Want to dig in a little deeper? The video below walks through the resume customization process in more detail:

Recommended Resume Reading:

Sample Resumes:

Part 4: The application and interview process

Wait…there’s a process for applying to jobs?

If that’s what you’re thinking, we get it. As simple as it might sound to apply for roles you’re interested in, like all parts of the job search, there is a process you’ll want to be mindful of so you get better results. After all, your goal is to get in that door and get that interview. 

As you might have already guessed, we have an entire (and free!) online class for this. In the course below, Dave goes through:

  • An overview of the hiring process at companies
  • Knowing when and how to use referrals for job applications
  • Understanding the different types of recruiters and their roles
  • Getting your application noticed by knowing how to contact people
  • Learning about online application systems and how to track your job search

Understanding the interview process

As a teacher, you’re most likely used to having a very specific interview process for teaching and support roles. That process most likely looks very different from a typical corporate interview process. 

It’s called a “process” for a reason—there are usually several steps or phases you need to make it through before signing an offer letter. And, it varies by company—some will be super simple and streamlined, while others will be lengthy and complex. But, speaking generally, here’s what you can expect:

  1. Application Review: A recruiter or hiring manager will take a look at your cover letter, resume, and whatever other information you were required to submit before deciding how to move forward.
  2. Phone Screening or Initial Meeting: This is typically a quick (sometimes only 15 minutes or so) conversation with the recruiter or hiring manager so that they can meet you, confirm your qualifications, cover some basics, and get a gut feel for whether or not you should get a full interview.
  3. First Interview: This is a longer conversation done in-person or via video chat where you’ll spend an hour or so answering questions about your skills, background, and professional experiences.
  4. Second Interview: This is an even more thorough conversation where a potential employer will dig even deeper into whether or not you’re a good fit for the role.
  5. Background or Reference Check: While not every company does it, some employers might complete a background check or call your references for final confirmation that you’re the right fit.
  6. Job Offer: Finally, the finish line! You receive an offer from the company. 

Prepping for the interview

The questions you’ll be asked in a corporate interview will be very different from an educational interview. We have several great interview resources that can help prepare for (almost) every type of question: 

  • We looked into the one interview question that hiring managers, recruiters, and leaders of some of our favorite tech companies love to ask. These are great questions to pursue, as they’re a reminder that interview questions can be as varied as the type of companies that are asking them. 
  • Many interviews, especially second ones, will most likely be peppered with behavioral and/or situational interview questions. Behavioral interview questions usually start with, “Tell me about a time when…” They ask about what you’ve done—and you’ll need to recall a specific experience or anecdote that actually happened. In contrast, situational interview questions ask about what you would do. They set up a hypothetical situation and require you to explain how you’d react and respond. We break down the difference—and give examples of each—in this post
  • With remote work becoming the norm across a wide range of sectors, more employers are turning to Zoom and other video platforms to conduct interviews online. When you’re accustomed to in-person interviews, the thought of a video interview can be daunting—here are a few of our best Zoom interview tips.

Interviewing is, in our humble opinion, the most important part of the whole job search process. If you’re looking for tips and tricks to get the best out the interview process, take a look at this video:

You can also check out this TikTok video to get the scoop on three of our go-to free interview resources:

From the video:

Other resources:

Combating impostor syndrome

Before and during the interview process, there might be a little uncertainty that creeps up. Your inner critic might pop up a few more times than you’d like. As much as we wish it wouldn’t, our impostor syndrome is present during this part of the job search process. If it starts to affect you, we’ve outlined a few ways to combat it

Part 5: Negotiation and compensation

Compensation is a very broad topic, and one that’s not just about your salary or cash compensation. As a transitioning teacher, this might be another aspect of the job search that is new to you—there might have been little or zero room to negotiate your compensation and benefits in your previous or current teaching role.

Here are a few things to keep in mind on the compensation front:

  • Make sure you understand your “total rewards” package for the role. Your total rewards is a 360-degree view of all things you can negotiate for. Here’s a link to our checklist, which shows the various elements that MAY make up a total rewards package: https://tealhq.co/totalrewards. (Note: Not all of these things are negotiable, but they’re worth being aware of. You can’t ask for what you don’t know to ask for!)
  • Research what the fair market value is for the role. There are plenty of resources to help you do this. We recently compiled a list of 30 salary websites, including those at Glassdoor and Monster.com. In addition, you can always use the Teal Chrome extension to pull salary data when it’s available. And, when a recruiter or hiring manager asks, “What are your salary requirements during an interview?” you’ll be prepared!)
  • Keep an eye out for the unfamiliar (but awesome!) benefits. Benefits can look very different in the corporate world than they might have looked as a teacher. Make sure that you’re aware of what these might look like—remote work, 401(k), flexible PTO and sick days, work stipends for professional development, and more—and understand what they entail.

A few tips for negotiation as you head into your new role:

  • Don’t jump at the first offer. It might be tempting—especially if the salary is much higher than you might be used to as an educator—to accept the first job offer you get. Understanding the market rate for your role will help you determine whether it’s a good offer, or whether you might consider counter-offering. 
  • Find your points of leverage. Typically, your biggest point of leverage for a role is the years of experience you have and the expertise you’ve accrued as a result. As you’re transitioning into a new industry, you may not have the years of experience—but you might be able to leverage your knowledge of the current market rate for your role, or how a specific skill you have translates into a salary increase. 
  • Know you can negotiate more than salary. Just like our Compensation Checklist can ensure you understand the total rewards package being offered for your role, it can also help you identify potential benefits that may be able to be negotiated. 
  • Negotiate salary over the phone, not email. Emailing might be a more comfortable option, especially when money is the main point of conversation. However, negotiating salary over the phone is likely to be more successful—you get the opportunity to have a real-time conversation and ask clarifying questions about the salary and benefits package being offered. Here are some scripts for having those conversations. 

"You’ve always heard that it’s rude to talk about money, but it’s not," explains Cassie Piggott, who transitioned from teaching into customer success. "You have to know what your skills are worth and ask for it. This can get hairy if you don’t know how much others with similar roles and experience are getting paid and don’t have a community to ask those questions. That’s where your LinkedIn network comes in. Ask people and check out sites like Glassdoor to at least get an idea of what your compensation should look like. Don’t wait until you have an offer in hand to ask about pay and benefits; ask that in the first meeting. You might think, 'But what if asking about money out of the gate makes the recruiter ghost me?' If they’re not willing to at least give you a range then you might not want to work for them in the first place, so no matter what happens, you win. I’m thankful for a networking community that I belong to called, The High Rise, for helping me through negotiating the salary for my new role." 

For more on compensation and negotiation, you can check out this video:

Conclusion (or maybe just the beginning)

We’re rooting hard for you. 

Career changes for teachers are a big deal. As we mentioned in the beginning, we’re cheering you on through every step of your career pivot. And, we’d love to hear from you. If there are particular resources that helped you in your own time as a #TransitioningTeacher—people you followed, courses you took, advice you were given—we’d love to add it with your permission. Reach out to us here. 

In the words of Cassie Piggott,

Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s going to take some time, but oh is it worth it!

Melissa Ripp

Mel Ripp is a freelance writer and communications strategist who loves sharing new perspectives on career change, employee and candidate experience, and company culture. When she’s not working, she’s most likely buying another houseplant, rearranging her record collection for the millionth time, or planning her next travel adventure.

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